What Is the Significance of the Name “Jesus?”

The Hebrew name Yehoshua (יְהוֹשׁוּעַ) is rendered in English as “Joshua.” It comes from two root words:

  1. YHVH (יְהוָֹה) – the name of God
  2. yasha (יָשַׁע) – to save, to help, or to deliver

So the name means literally “God saves,” “God helps,” or “God delivers.”

The Greek form of this name is Iésous (Ἰησοῦς), which is rendered in English as “Jesus.”

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she would give birth to the Son of God, he told her that she should name the baby “JESUS” (Luke 1:31).

Some time later, an angel delivered the same message to Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, with a brief explanation for the name:

She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

The first author in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi, learned from an angel hundreds of years before the Savior’s birth that this would be His name. Since Nephi came from Jerusalem, the meaning of the name would have been clear to him:

According to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God….
There is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved (2 Nephi 25:19-20).

For Nephi, this name had profound personal significance:

I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell (2 Nephi 33:6).

King Benjamin also learned from an angel that the Savior would be named Jesus and that He would bring God’s salvation (Mosiah 3:8-9).

After the queen of the Lamanites was converted by the preaching of Ammon, she expressed her gratitude to the Savior using His name:

O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell!  (Alma 19:29).

When Alma was tormented with guilt after being called to repentance by an angel, he cried out for help: “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death” (Alma 36:18). Immediately after he said these words, his pain vanished.

Because these individuals came from a Hebrew heritage, they likely understood intuitively the connection between the Savior’s name and his mission. Every time we say the name “Jesus,” we are not only identifying Him; we are also affirming that God loves us and is willing to save us. The promise is embedded in the name.

The prophet Moroni urged us “to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever” (Ether 12:41).

Yesterday, President Russell M. Nelson made the same invitation to us:

At this Christmas season our thoughts turn to this babe born in Bethlehem. I urge you to seek this Jesus. He truly is the Prince of Peace. I invite you to draw closer to Him and experience the joy that envelops all who are willing to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. As one of His Apostles, I bless you with the ability to receive and feel the infinite love that our Savior and our Heavenly Father have for you (Facebook post, December 24, 2019).

Today, I will remember the meaning of the name “Jesus.” I will use His name reverently, remembering that His name describes His mission and reaffirms the love of our Heavenly Father.

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